The Giants bosses thought enough of Jason Garrett that they planned to interview him for their head coaching job last week. They always knew he'd be tough to sell to their fan base, though.
Selling him as their new offensive coordinator is going to be a lot easier. And it makes much more sense.
Garrett, the recently fired Dallas Cowboys head coach, has been hired as the Giants' new offensive coordinator, an NFL source confirmed, two days after he interviewed with new Giants coach Joe Judge. He had been considered a "very strong" candidate from the beginning, as SNY reported, because he's been very highly regarded in the Giants organization since he was a backup quarterback there from 2000-03.
Even John Mara endorsed the idea of hiring him as an assistant last week, when he said "I certainly wouldn't have any objection to that. I have a lot of respect for Jason."
He should, because the 53-year-old is widely considered a bright offensive mind and someone who could work wonders with young quarterback Daniel Jones. Garrett is also the experienced voice the 38-year-old Judge so desperately needs on his staff. Garrett may have underachieved as the Cowboys coach, but after 9 1/2 years at the helm he surely knows a lot that a first-time head coach doesn't.
That's why he's an inspired choice.
And while the Giants have given Judge the freedom to hire whomever he wants on his staff, they had strongly suggested to him that he include some experienced coaches - and perhaps even former head coaches -- a source said. Even Mara seemed to confirm that on the day Judge was introduced, saying "Having experienced people on both sides of the ball is going to be critical."
Garrett does have plenty of experience. He was 85-67 as head coach of the Cowboys, reaching the playoffs three times. But the general perception was that his teams underachieved considering all the talent they had assembled. Many thought Garrett appeared to be in over his head as a head coach at times.
Still, the Cowboys offense was usually pretty good during his tenure. They had the NFL's top-ranked offense this past season, averaging 431.5 yard per game. It was the fifth time in his tenure Dallas ranked in the Top 7 in total offense. And they ranked in the Top 3 twice in his three years as the Cowboys offensive coordinator before that.
Garrett was also instrumental in the development of young quarterback Dak Prescott, who was a fourth-round draft pick in 2016, was thrust into the starting lineup and made the Pro Bowl twice in his first four years.
Garrett also seems to align philosophically with both Judge and Giants GM Dave Gettleman. After all, the Cowboys over the last decade made a concerted effort to build their offense around one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. In fact, they used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman three times in A four-draft stretch, from 2011-14. So when they drafted running back Ezekiel Elliott in 2016, he had plenty of help in front.
In other words, Garrett checks all the Giants' boxes. He knows how to run an offense built around a strong rushing attack. He knows the importance of building a strong offensive line. And he has a track record of developing young quarterbacks.
It would have been hard for the Giants to find anyone who would be a much better fit.
They did have other options, though. As SNY reported, the Giants asked for permission to speak with Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who had been an assistant with Judge in New England, but the Bills denied the request. Judge did speak at length with Mike Shula, who was Pat Shurmur's offensive coordinator the last two years, according to a source. His selling point was consistency for Jones. He was also a favorite of Gettleman.
Garrett, though, always seemed to have the inside track to the job - and rightfully so.
Garrett will inherit one assistant coach for the previous staff - Tyke Tolbert, the receivers coach. Otherwise a source said he will have input in the shaping of the rest of the offensive staff. The Giants reportedly met with Scott Linehan, Garrett's former office of coordinator in Dallas, on Friday. He could be a candidate to become the quarterbacks coach. Another former Cowboys offensive coordinator, Bill Callahan, could be a candidate to become the Giants offensive line coach.